Manipulating Emotions – The Effects of Social Media

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Forbes: Entrepreneur delves into what really motivates people in this day and age!  How can people, companies, and groups spur us into action?

There are plenty of options: advertising, marketing, and of course the ever popular and influential social media.  It has been revealed long ago that influencing one’s emotions can in turn affect their actions.

Many of us think of Facebook when we think of social media and influencing emotions, especially in light of the recent news regarding Facebook’s experiment in manipulating their user’s emotions by removing all of the positive or negative posts from certain user’s feeds.  Right or wrong, using emotions to control our actions is not recent news and many companies are now taking this to the next level.

According to Forbes’ article, Participant Media, which makes films that promote progressive causes and informs audiences in an effort to spur action, is currently working with Knight Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism to create a brand new way to measure this impact.

The company is banking on the overwhelming evidence that story-telling touches our emotions as well as our intellects.  Which strategies are more effective in galvanizing a viewer is the real question.

The Times also commented on this new way to measure the impact of social media,

Participant created an evolving index that compiles raw audience numbers for issue-driven narrative films, documentaries, television programs and online short videos, along with measures of conventional and social media activity, including Twitter TWTR +0.32% and Facebook presence. The two measures are then matched with the results of an online survey, about 25 minutes long, that asks as many as 350 viewers of each project an escalating set of questions about their emotional response and level of engagement. Did it affect you emotionally? Did you share information about it? Did you boycott a product or company? Did it change your life?

This Index will score films on whether they move people to take action, from sharing media on social channels to getting involved. However, Jay Rosen , a NYU journalism professor, purports,

Action and behavior are not the same thing at all. One is a conscious choice, the other a human tendency. There’s a tension, then, between commercial behaviorism, which may be deeply functional in some ways for the news industry, and informing people as citizens capable of understanding their world well enough to improve it, which is the deepest purpose of journalism.

It is important for corporate marketing specialists, especially in a consumer driven society, to know if what they are doing is working. The bigger question is, is taking the art of manipulating our emotions to the next level really what we want to do.

PsychCentral also has a similar article on how social sharing influences our emotions.

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